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Hotel Tour or Third Party?

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San Diego...
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Hotel Tour or Third Party?

I will be staying at the Hidden Valley Inn this January in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. They offer a number of planned tours (Mayan sites, Cave tubing, etc). Would you recommend arranging these tours through the Inn or going with a third party group?

San Ignacio, Belize
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1. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

While most hotels add a huge commission, and everyone says don't use them unless you have to, in this case, since you'll be in MPR already, and the tour operators are in Cayo, you kind of have no choice but to pay the extra, unless...

I'd rent a car for the nights you have at HVI. It really would save you tons of money, even with gas and rental fee, plus you could set your own time frame. Flames auto rental is the best around, and they are cheaper than the ones at the airport. If you'll be in Cayo for a while, check out the Best of Cayo site: http://www.bestofcayo.com/ There's so many great restaurants in town; that way you won't have to eat at the hotel every night.

MPR is clearly signed, so getting around on your own, even at night, shouldn't be hard.

Have a great time!

belize
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for Belize, Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Cayo, San Ignacio
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2. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

drfeel, I'm not sure who tacks on the huge commission you are referring to, but I assume, my better colleagues and myself, add on a commision that reflects the value of the services we offer, or we would not be in biz. You get paid for being a teacher and running a guest house. I also need to make a living and this is what I choose to do and think I do it well. And commission is not added to many services, but taken from the listed rates. I don;t add a commission to hotel rooms, some tours or transfers but get a commision from the service provider, at no added cost to the client. Some travelers want to book their own and others want someone to give advice and handle their arrangements for them and be here while they are traveling to ensure all arrangements run smoothly. To each their own, we are pleased they choose Belize for their valuable vacation time.

San Ignacio, Belize
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3. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

Katie, how goes it? I strictly meant in reference to either booking with the hotel or doing it from the tour operator. I didn't refer to tour service providers like yourself in any way, and certainly didn't mean to infer that either. What I meant was exactly this: hotels that have a tour operator's license usually add a premium, sometimes huge, sometimes I'd even say phenomenal, for tours.

Tour service providers are great, necessary in our modern, busy world, and offer a wonderful service by planning everything that tourists need.

belize
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for Belize, Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Cayo, San Ignacio
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4. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

DF, again, speaking for myself and many of the hotels and tour operators you refer to, the mark up is not huge and assume its somewhere between 10-20%. By mark up, I mean profit on huge investments in vehicles, boats, infrastructure, human resources and other risks. I just think we have to be fair to the service providers who want to be competitive, but have to make some $, especially in this new whittled down economy.

San Diego...
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5. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

Thanks for the info! I compared the costs at HVI vs PACZ and a couple others. Most of the prices are about equivalent. However, you made me realize how "stuck" we are at HVI. IWe would need our own transportation if we want to do anything other than what is at the Inn or planned by the Inn. So, I think we may rent a car. It sounds like a 4WD is necessary. I will check out Flames.

Thanks

San Ignacio, Belize
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6. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

Katie, I distinguish between hotels and tour operators, and really recommend using established tour operators. I'll agree that maybe it's a 10% markup for hotels, but they tend to buy expensive vehicles and boats and other things, so the price difference can be more than twice as much as what an already established tour operator can offer it for. Core competencies...

Most car rentals are 4wd - no extra charge.

San Diego...
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7. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

We will be at HVI for 5 nights (then to Ambergris Caye for 5 nights). Any thought on whether it makes more sense to rent the car at the airport and return it on our way to Ambergris Caye for a total of 6 days, or just rent it from SI for 2 or 3 days while we are there. HVI shuttle from airport to hotel is $150 for up to 4 passengers (we are 2).

San Ignacio, Belize
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8. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

That's a tough one, but if you can get a good deal at the airport, then you should go for it since you would probably use the vehicle every day then. You wouldn't need a shuttle to the resort if you went straight to Cayo and rented, and a private shuttle to SI is around $90us total, and many times they can lower the price a good bit if there are other guests on the same shuttle.

Katie, today I made the final project comparing prices all along the spectrum, from tours to shuttles. Should really get the kids thinking, and give them some great practical use with spreadsheets. Thanks for the idea.

Edited: 09 November 2010, 04:40
belize
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for Belize, Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Cayo, San Ignacio
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9. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

DR, Its not just about spread sheets, although its a good exercise for your students. I'd rather be on a larger more expensive, safer and more comfortable boat on rougher seas or a newer vehicle, less likely to break down with good tires, in the bush or remote areas. With a better guide with lots of experiance, know how and knowledge. And the price cost between the two is not that much different. I like reliable and safe and opt for that when engaging service providers, whether independent or thru hotels.

Belmopan, Belize
2 posts
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10. Re: Hotel Tour or Third Party?

You could rent a vehicle but I'm not sure that will get you anywhere. I've stayed at Hidden Valley Inn. You picked very well. Most people come to Belize for the adventure or diving tours. So I'm assuming you'll be doing at least 3-4 tours.

If you go to ATM, Tikal, or any of the rest, you'll wind up in someone else's vehicle anyway. If you hike the property you'll spend a day or two doing that and still not run out of trails or fantastic sites. You don't need a car for any of that.

I'm pretty sure that management could get you down to San Ignacio for a day or two for some aimless wandering or just rent the vehicle for a day or two maximum. HVI shuttles people and provisions back and forth all the time.

It's 23.4 miles to Hidden Valley from downtown San Ignacio and most of it is pretty rough road. The costs of tours with operators downtown don't reflect the gas and time to get to a location like Hidden Valley to pick someone up. There's my two cents.

Best Regards,

Brad Keller

www.travel-informed.com